HC3 has just completed the summary report from the International SBCC Summit, held February 8 – 10, 2016, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The report features highlights from the Summit as well as the “Addis Declaration,” which proposes 10 principles for the global SBCC community to consider.
HC3 believes that if widely shared and followed, the Addis Declaration will strengthen and enrich the SBCC field, link members of the SBCC scholarly and professional community more closely to each other, increase the stature and reputation of SBCC globally, and continue to improve the effectiveness and impact of communication on a local, national and global scale.
The declaration stemmed from a Summit keynote speech given by Rajiv Rimal, PhD, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Prevention and Community Health at George Washington University.
- We support and practice SBCC in order to improve society. Our clients/stakeholders do not just want to live without disease; they want to lead happy and productive lives that improve themselves, their children, their communities, their countries and the world we all inhabit. We want to design and implement programs in partnership with our stakeholders, not for them or in order to change them.
- SBCC is a process that unfolds over time. It is not synonymous with messaging (communication “s”). It is a reciprocal process of dialogue and deliberation that evolves continuously through social interaction.
- Not all social and behavioral changes are equally important or plausible. Changes can be organized according to different attributes: whether private or public; one-off vs. repeated or sustained; long-term or short term; voluntary or compulsive; stigmatizing or pride-inducing; costly, cheap or free behaviors; those with high vs. low cultural significance. Prioritization and strategizing must take these attributes into account.
- Social and behavior change results from interactions between multiple and multilevel factors. Factors at the structural, community, household and individual levels are often complementary, not mutually exclusive, so they need to be addressed in an integrated manner for optimum effect. This will lead us to ask more informative questions and find more powerful solutions. Don’t ask, “Is mHealth better than radio?” Instead ask, “Is mHealth better than radio in urban compared to rural settings?” Don’t ask, “Does participatory communication reduce economic disparities?” Instead ask, “Does participatory communication reduce economic disparities better in the presence or absence of microfinance opportunities?”
- SBCC is multidisciplinary. The problems we tackle are complex, requiring multiple methods, perspectives and solutions. No one discipline, not even SBCC, can solve these problems alone. We need to involve other disciplines in our work and also infiltrate other disciplines because we have a lot to offer – and to learn. We must train ourselves to speak the language of other professions and specializations.
As SBCC professionals, we have an obligation to improve our field. We must disseminate our findings, not only to funders, but to the larger SBCC community and to the stakeholder communities which we study and with which we work. We must train and nurture future SBCC professionals by networking, mentoring, role-modeling best practices and promoting SBCC education.
We must relentlessly pursue rigorous evaluation of SBCC work. Our work depends on a supply of precious public funds, so we must build from an evidence base of programs with known effectiveness and contribute to that evidence base so others can do the same.
SBCC should routinely report cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses. Because funding for SBCC is not unlimited and always competes with other priorities, we need to justify our expenditures. What is the unit outcome per dollar spent? What are the savings in dollars that result from the program?
SBCC programs must be sensitive to unintended effects. Does exposure to anti-drug messages increase curiosity about drugs among some youth? Does the implementation of more bike paths increase cycling, but also increase traffic fatalities? Does a heightened focus on one cause bring extra funds through policy change, but also take funds away from other causes?
SBCC communicators must communicate more clearly. We are sometimes our own worst enemy when we insist on using specialized jargon or a jumble of acronyms that make us incomprehensible and inaccessible to others. And we weaken our public image and undermine trust when we argue among ourselves publicly about whose approach is right and whose is wrong. We must try to speak with one voice.